The Ancient Cemetery of Kerameikos in Athens: Kerameikos is one of the most important but least visited archaeological sites in Athens. It was actually the cemetery of ancient Athens and was continuously used from the 9th century BC until the Roman times.
The area took its name from the word keramos, which means pottery in Greek, due to the numerous pottery workshops that existed in the area before it was turned into a cemetery. Another explanation is that the area took its name from the local hero Keramos, son of Dionysus and Ariadne.
The region of Kerameikos was divided into two parts by the walls of Athens, the so-called Themistoclean walls. The inner part was an inhabited area, while the outer part was actually the cemetery, which lay outside the city walls. The walls had two gates - Dipylon and the Sacred Gate. Dipylon was the gate of the Panathenaic Way which led to the Acropolis, while the Sacred Gate led to Eleusina, an important town in ancient times, where the Eleusinian Mysteries would take place every autumn.
More information about the Ancient Site of Kerameikos
In the Classical times, a significant public building, the Pompeion, was constructed between the two gates. This building was the starting point for the long procession of the Panathenaic Festival, the most important festival in ancient Athens in honor of the goddess Athena, the protector of the town. Before the procession, a large sacrifice of 100 cows would take place there. This building was destroyed during the siege of Athens by Sullas, a Roman general, in 86 BC.
Archaeological excavations in Kerameikos started in 1870. Since 1913, the excavations have been undertaken by the German Archaeological Institute of Athens. Archaeologists have found columns of temples, marble statues, remains of public buildings, funeral offerings and thousands of tombs. In fact, during the works of Kerameikos Metro Station, 1,000 more tombs dating from the 5th and the 4th century BC were discovered. The archaeological site of Kerameikos is located at the end of Ermou Street, on the northwest of the Acropolis. A small museum with interesting findings is located next to the entrance of the site.
How to get there
There are many ways to reach the Ancient Site of Kerameikos from any location in Athens.
Private transfers: We recommend using an online pre-booked transfer service, which provides transfer by taxi, minibus, or private VIP car and arranging a pickup directly from the port, airport, or your hotel. Alternatively, there’s the option of arranging a pickup by a local driver directly at the following numbers: (0030) 18288, (0030) 18222, (0030) 18180. You can also book your taxi online.
On foot: As the Ancient Site of Kerameikos is located in a central area of Athens, it can be easily reached on foot from Thissio Metro Station in approximately 5 minutes or from Kerameikos Metro Station in less than 10 minutes.
By metro: The closest metro station is Thissio (Green Line). Note that the Ancient Site of Kerameikos is located within a 5-minute walking distance from the metro. Get a map of the metro here.
By bus/trolleybus: The closest bus stop is “Palaia Agora”. Check the routes and the official timetables on OASA Telematics.